Ad Blocker Adoption: Majority of Americans Block Ads — Do They Feel Bad About It? [Study]

All About Cookies surveyed internet users to learn about how many people use ad blockers, how effective they think they are, and how they feel about them.
We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

From a growing anxiety about privacy to a backlash on overzealous advertising, internet users are increasingly interested in taking control of their online experiences. One great example of this is in the adoption of ad blockers — tools that stop or edit online advertising to create an ad-free experience on videos, articles, and websites.

But ad blockers aren’t without controversy. Recently, YouTube rolled out a “global crackdown” on ad blocker apps, leaving customers scrambling for alternatives while the cat-and-mouse game of consumers wanting to dodge ads vs. websites wanting to monetize their sites continues.

How essential are ad blockers to a user's internet experience? And how do ads impact the way we browse the internet? Our team at All About Cookies surveyed 1,000 American internet users to understand more about the ad blocker ecosystem.

In this study
Key findings
Understanding ad blocker basics
Ad blocker adoption
Why people use ad blockers
How effective are ad blockers?
Ethical use of ad blockers
Advice from our experts
The best ad blockers

Key findings

  • The vast majority of internet users (93%) are familiar with ad blockers and know what they do, yet only 19% find them completely effective.
  • At least one-third (33%) of people have never used an ad blocker on their computer or phone.
    • This percentage jumps to 51% for mobile users.
  • Despite requests from websites, 20% of internet users admit to never turning off their ad blocker.
  • Of those who use ad blockers, more than half (52%) don’t feel guilty at all when visiting smaller websites that rely on ad revenue.

Understanding ad blocker basics

Ad blockers have been around as long as websites have been showing advertisements, but grew in popularity alongside video streaming platforms like YouTube.

Unsurprisingly, 93% of internet users said they had some familiarity with ad blocker software, with 66% (2 in 3) having a good grasp of the technology.

Chart showing how familiar users are with ad blockers

Still, 8% of internet users have never heard of them, with 27% having only a loose understanding of their capabilities.

Ad blocker adoption

While it’s one thing to know about ad blocker technology, it’s another thing to actually use them regularly. And the type of ad blocker is also a point to consider, with options like:

  • Desktop vs. mobile
  • Premium vs. free

We asked internet users which applications they’ve used and on what devices.

Chart showing how many people currently use an ad blocker

Noticeably, adoption on computers (desktop and laptops) is significantly higher than mobile users. 68% of internet users have tried out paid or free ad blocking software on their computers vs. just 50% on their phones.

Unsurprisingly, adoption is significantly higher for free ad blockers than paid, with less than 1 in 10 internet users paying for ad blockers.

Why people use ad blockers

In addition to simply being annoyed by ads, some ad blockers can protect your data, and even your devices, from unwanted malware, privacy intrusions, and bogged down on-page experiences.

To better understand why consumers use ad-blocking technology, we asked ad blocker users what their primary motivators were for installation.

Chart showing why people use ad blockers

As you may expect, the top use for ad blockers is to simply see fewer advertisements. But beyond the obvious, 59% of ad block users said they use the software to protect against malware and other viruses, and 54% to better protect their privacy online.

Users also cited performance as a primary motivator, with 43% citing a need to have websites load faster, 28% to navigate websites more easily, and 20% to save data and battery life.

But what are the consequences of the ad experience for websites? A whopping 67% (2 in 3) of internet users said they’ve skipped a piece of video content, or worse, stopped using a website entirely because of unwanted ads.

Chart showing majority of people skipped a video because of ads

If companies want to monetize by offering targeted ad experiences on their sites, and users are going to use ad blockers to get around these monetization attempts, the choice for content providers is twofold:

  • Create technology to block ad blockers, or…
  • Find other ways to provide users with the ad-free experience they want, while still being able to generate the revenue

Some companies, like YouTube, do both. Last year, YouTube announced a “global crackdown” on ad blockers on the platform, but also ramped up their YouTube Premium model, which allows viewers an ad-free experience in exchange for a monthly fee.

This model is similar to those that streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu employ, offering lower-tier, ad-inclusive subscriptions, and for a few dollars a month extra, an ad-free viewing experience.

The question then becomes, how many people will actually sign up?

Chart showing the majority of people haven't bought a subscription to avoid ads

Overall, the statistics are promising for content distributors. Almost half (42%) of internet users said they’ve paid for a premium subscription to a site or streaming service to avoid ads. This is higher than the 30% of users who have purchased subscriptions to get around a paywall, as we found in our paywalls study.

How effective are ad blockers?

As sites become more sophisticated about getting around ad blockers, ad blocking software also evolves to improve as well. Even with these challenges, users report that ad blockers remain effective.

Chart showing how effective ad blockers are

Overall, 94% of adblock users report that their software is at least somewhat effective, with paid ad block software users seeing an increased effectiveness vs. their free counterparts.

70% of paid ad blocker users say their ad blockers are completely or very effective at blocking unwanted ads and pop ups, vs. 57% of free users.

Ethical use of ad blockers

Lastly, we wanted to understand more about how users perceive the ethics of ad blocking.

Some sites can identify when a user is trying to circumvent pop ups or ads with ad blocking software. In this case, they’ll sometimes ask users to turn it off because it’s how they make money.

But how often do people actually oblige? Unsurprisingly, not very often. Only 5% of users report doing this every time, with the majority (64%) never or rarely respecting the publisher’s request.

Chart showing how people feel about using ad blockers

When asked how guilty users feel using ad blockers on sites that rely on revenue to continue operating, 52% responded “not at all,” with only 10% expressing any significant amount of guilt.

Advice from our experts

While our study helped us better understand why people install ad blockers, we also had our own questions about the quality of free vs. paid extensions and when it’s most recommended to disable an ad blocker. To find out more, we asked our experts to weigh in on three questions:

  • In what ways can people benefit from downloading an ad blocker?
  • Why should users turn off their ad blocker extension if a website requests that they do so?
  • Are there any red flags you can think of when it comes to installing a free ad blocker?

The best ad blockers

If you’re part of the majority of people who use ad blockers, make sure you’re using the best of the best.


To collect the data for this survey, our team at All About Cookies surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults in May 2024 via Pollfish. All respondents were U.S. citizens over the age of 18 and remained anonymous.

Best Basic Adblocker — Including YouTube Video Ads
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Total Adblock's website
Ad Blocker
Total Adblock
Special deal: Save 80% off
  • Instantly blocks distracting ads on millions of websites, including YouTube video ads
  • Blocks third-party trackers to protect your privacy and information
  • Improves page load times and enables faster browsing